Logistics And Organization Of The Volga Swim

Courtesy of Alexander Bazanov, Volga Swim, Russia.

Alexander Bazanov organized several running events and several small open water swimming competitions before he set about to manage a large international race, the Volga Swim in Russia.

In 2016, we had 400 swimmers in the race where they crossed a wide river with a strong current. The field was separated into three heats that started from three different points and finished in one location. This year, we received 1,200 registrations in two months before the race making The Volga Swim the biggest open water event in Russia.”

Bazanov believes his experience could be useful for race organizers who start off like he did with some smaller swims with the goal to organize a larger one.

Safety is always the #1 priority for us especially because of difficult swimming conditions and the large number of swimmers. We test the route always by ourselves to check how exactly the river current works when we swim in the average pace of 20-22 minutes per km. Based on this test, we plan the benchmarks and control marks of two types – which we simply recommend and which are strictly forbidden to cross and where we remove a swimmer from the distance.

At the pre-start briefing, we give two instructions: how to get to the finish using our benchmarks and how to behave if swimmer feels badly or sees that somebody else has a problem.

We do not practice mass starts for groups of more than 100-200 swimmers. This exact number depends on the width of the beach.

Also, personal swimming buoys are strictly required for everyone swimming all the distances. We provide these buoys to each swimmer.

For beginners, we have several distances. The most attention is required during the shortest one because a lot of beginners take part. So we prefer to limit the quantity of swimmers there and double the attention.

Logistics is another issue. With many people involved, the event becomes more of a logistical challenge. Where is everyone positioned before and after the start? Where can the swimmers change out of and into their clothes, where do the swimmers, volunteers, staff, and spectators park, how do we transport them to or from the start or in the middle of the course if necessary, how many toilets do we need, and how much time will take for all the operations to be conducted? These kinds of logistics should be all calculated
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